At 16-0, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team is off to their best start in program history. After a dominating performance last night in their 95-70 win over 23rd ranking Illinois, the Badgers are showing no signs of slowing down.
Senior Ben Brust has led the team in scoring last night with 18, but four others also reached double figures in scoring for Wisconsin as they jumped out to an early 20-0 to relieve the early tension in the game.
One negative aspect of Wisconsin’s game was that they gave up 25 offensive rebounds to the Illini. This type of collapse against a stronger team would definitely be costly, most likely giving Wisconsin a loss. The post play in is what will determine if Wisconsin is successful as they move forward with conference games.
All of the perimeter players have posted solid minutes in the nonconference portion of the season. The ability of everyone on the team to shoot 3 pointers creates a challenge for opposing defenses as they are forced to guard players farther out than they are used to. By shooting 3s, the Badgers have been able to quickly gain leads or put games away. There has not been another team in the Bo Ryan era that has shot the ball or scored as many points as this team is doing.
The defense seems to be slipping a little bit from the classic Bo Ryan team, but the offense more than makes up for it. I think that as the season goes on and the players get more comfortable around each other, the defense will step up, making the team even more dynamic and powerful. According to ESPN Stats & Info, this season already, the Badgers are the only team to win games by scoring points in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and 100s. From this, you can see how Wisconsin is able to win games, no matter how many points they need to score. They are also able to shut down other teams while scoring fewer points.
Wisconsin is also a younger team, with only one senior (Brust), so the future seasons are bright for Wisconsin basketball. The young Badgers will only get better as the season goes and the competition improves, including games against top 5 opponents at home with Michigan State and Ohio State. Both of these teams have powerful post players that could cause trouble for Wisconsin. Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes have been dominant in the post so far this season, but how will they respond to bigger, physical teams? I do not think they will be effective in their first few games against bigger players, but the experience they gain from that will be valuable as they move on with the season and into the NCAA tournament.
This may be the best team Bo Ryan has ever led, but will they be able to advance in the NCAA tournament? Bo Ryan has never had a team go past the Sweet Sixteen. This probably will be the team to do it, an unconventional Bo Ryan team.